Torii Hunter with the Baltimore Orioles?


Jul 8, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter (48) before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Could it be possible that a scenario would develop that could eventuate with Torii Hunter playing in 2015 with the Baltimore Orioles? Apparently he would be very much open to that – as reported by sports journalist Mark Whicker …

Hunter’s son, Torii Hunter Jr., is a sophomore wide receiver on the Notre Dame football team.

How many active professional athletes have sons playing Division 1 sports? Not many for sure. This is not quite a Ken Griffey situation, but Torii Sr. is age 39. He will turn 40 in July of this coming season.

At this point of his career, Hunter is a right fielder whose range has diminished, though he is far from a tortoise on the field. At this point, his speed on defense and on the bases would probably rate as about average.

Hunter’s power numbers are a bit less than the memory many of us have of him from earlier years with the Angels and Twins. Even so, he still hit 17 home runs the past two seasons. And playing just over 140 games per year for the past three seasons, his batting average combined has been .301.

Hunter’s career average is .279 with a total of 331 home runs over 18 seasons. He is aging quite well. An article that delves deeply into his sabermetrics details quite clearly that his skills at the plate are not diminishing in terms of catching up to the fast ball, etc.  In fact, he has cut down on strike outs while hitting a higher number of line drives.

Of course, for the Orioles to end up with Hunter would mean that the entire Nick Markakis negotiations had broken down and failed completely. While most folks would still bet on Markakis with the Birds next year, it certainly is not happening quickly. Hunter might be a bit cheaper, and he would certainly be a shorter-term contract at just one or two seasons.

To compare the two in 2014 …

Markakis in 155 games slashed .276/.342/.386 with 27 doubles and 14 home runs.

Hunter in 142 games slashed .286/.319/.446 with 33 doubles and 17 home runs.

The difference is not monumental.

Why would Hunter consider the Orioles (or the Rangers or Mariners, but not as likely the Twins)?  It has been reported on other occasions that he would like to finish with a contending team. Hunter has never played in a World Series. He was on a playoff team in eight of his seasons – losing in the ALCS five times and the ALDS three times. His career playoffs average is .274 in 48 total games.

Maybe Hunter, who has already made a reported $160 million, would give a sort of one-year discount to be on a playoff-contending team like the Orioles.

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So, imagine Torii Hunter and Bud Norris on the same team after their altercation this past season! Hunter felt that Norris threw at him, and while going to first base said he was going to kick Norris in a portion of the anatomy only able to be seen with the help of at least one mirror, or preferably two.

I would guess they could work it out and bring a joint passion to the game.

I don’t have a strong feeling on this one as to which would be better – Markakis or Hunter. Losing Markakis would certainly raise the stock of Alejandro De Aza. Hunter and Steve Pearce (and occasionally Matt Wieters) could share in the DH duties as well (assuming Nelson Cruz is not signed).